Publishers and agents have declared this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF) to be positive and vibrant, though the dates for its 2018 edition, announced yesterday, have raised concerns about a conflict with the London Book Fair (LBF).
DK c.e.o. Ian Hudson, attending his first BCBF in 11 years, said: “It’s amazing to see that so little has changed. It’s still such a vibrant fair, there are so many new ideas. We’re getting good feedback from all markets, which is interesting after LBF... I think some [exhibitors at Bologna] didn’t go to London.”
Michele Young, international rights director at Macmillan Children’s Books, said the publisher was having a “fantastic” fair: “There’s been interest across the board, from novelty books to YA. There’s been a constant stream of people coming... [they] are asking for a lot of middle grade.”
Otter-Barry Books publisher Janetta Otter-Barry also noted an upbeat mood this year. She said: “It’s been very positive so far. People seem to be buying. It’s been better than expected. We had an exciting first day and we’ve been very busy, meeting a mix of people.”
Yet many fairgoers believe the schedule for 2018 was a point of concern. BCBF will run on 26th–29th March 2018, while LBF, which announced its 2018 dates before this year’s instalment, will take place on 10th–12th April. With Easter sandwiched in-between, exhibitors will have a “tight schedule” to move stands between Bologna and London, said Michael Stone, m.d. at stand designer Hytex Communications.
“My contractors are already concerned about the logistical difficulties of working over the Easter holidays,” he told The Bookseller Daily at Bologna Children's Book Fair.
LBF director Jacks Thomas said: “We will do what we did last year [when there was a similar scheduling clash]: listen to people and do what we can to help exhibitors.”
Jane Willis at United Agents pointed out long-haul exhibitors at both fairs would be the most affected. She said: “The schedule is probably OK for most Europeans, but the Asians and the transatlantic publishers have to make decisions: will they spend a long time out of the office going to both fairs, or will they choose one over the other?”
Alison Green, publisher at her eponymous Scholastic imprint, said: “As an editor, I’ll have to get everything ready earlier. But it’s tougher for the people selling. It’s not ideal. I think for people who have a long way to travel, they’ll have to realistically choose which fair to go to.”
Logistics aside, Pan Macmillan m.d. Anthony Forbes Watson said the Bologna and London fairs were distinct enough for each to be vibrant and well attended. He said: “The business at Bologna is more about bookmaking, and refreshing and collaborating with our international
networks... London is more about deal-making.”